There are many medical memoirs out there that readers usually formed an expectation of the way it’s written. To read a medical memoir is to demystify the profession and giving a more humane understanding of a group of people who hold the lives of another human being in their hands every day. Doctors like Paul Kalanithi, Henry Marsh and Atul Gawande write eloquently about their profession, intermingling daily insights with wise ruminations about the nature of life, death and what it means to be human.
And then, there’s Adam Kay.
From the very first page, readers can tell that Kay’s memoir is different from a regular medical memoir. For one thing, it is very irreverent, sardonic and blunt. For another, the book is based on the daily diary entry Kay had to write down during his stint as a junior doctor and published after he left the profession to become a comedy writer. So while everyone knows that being a doctor is a stressful job, Kay brings home the truth of the amount of sacrifice a person has to go through to become and stay a doctor. Beneath Kay’s sarcastic punchlines and wacky patient situations is the reality of having to work 97-hour weeks, falling asleep in his car, unable to form friendships due to the demanding hours and all with a paltry salary. Lonely and depressed, it was only after he left and start a new career in comedy writing did his life got back on track.
Even after he left, Kay still has a tremendous amount respect for the people who worked in the field he once did. Kay’s memoir is not a book about a quitter, but rather an ode of respect for the people who goes through the harrowing challenges of the medical field and still persevere.
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